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Cycles and Oppression – Patheos (blog)

As I get older, Im more and more inclined to see life as a collection of cycles. What goes around, comes around; to everything there is a season, from glorious Spring to blazing Summer, from brilliant Autumn to frozen Winter, to glorious Spring again.

Like the moon, everything waxes and wanes our economies, our schools, our families, our governments large and small even our diets. Sometimes things are going well, sometimes badly. Sometimes things are going marvelously well. Sometimes unbelievably badly. Sometimes a brilliant sunset, sometimes a rainbow, sometimes a snowstorm.

Cultural norms swing from liberal to conservative, from conservative to liberal, and back and forth again; hemlines rise and fall, neckties and lapels grow wider and narrower, beards grow, and are shaved away, and grow again. As a people we seem to move from comfortable to excess, to contraction, to comfortable; from comfortable to belt-tightening, to recovery, to comfortable.

Good government waxes and wanes, too, like the moon.

Powerful people take charge, creating new departments, expanding little empires, taking on bigger and bigger projects until eventually the departments are bloated, the projects are full of hot air, and the bubble bursts, putting good people out of work at the same time as getting rid of deadwood.

Perhaps you see some of this the same way, or perhaps not; you are your own Spiritual Authority.

Someone asked me today how I would respond, as a Wiccan, to our present national situation. Here is my reply:

I call to the powers of Air; I ask that you lend clarity of thought, release of oppressions, a cleansing breeze to blow through the corridors of power and sweep away what does not serve our nation and all its people.

I call to the powers of Fire; I ask that you lend passion to the ideas of liberty and justice, and that you transform the ideas of power-over, of greed, of privilege, of unfair taking; bringing in their place the warmth of shared community and shared resources throughout our nation.

I call to the powers of Water; I ask that you lend gentleness to the deliberations of our legislators, that they enter the flow of caring for the highest good of this land and its many peoples; I ask that you dissolve the barriers that set us to seeing each other as red states and blue states and let us see our common interests and feel our common devotion.

I call to the powers of Earth; I ask that you lend stability and support to our judges and our executives at all levels of government; that you remind them often of this holy ground on which they stand, and lead, and rule our peoples.

Later I realized I had asked for guidance and support from the Elements, but had not made corresponding pledges of my own. So here are some now:

I pledge to be mindful, as I read the news, that not everything published is true, and not everything true is right or fair.

I pledge to be mindful, as I cast my ballots, that not every candidate is honorable and not every candidate will be able to resist the work of lobbyists and horse-traders.

I pledge to use my voice, and the privileges I have been granted, to lift up and amplify the voices of those who bear greater oppressions than my own. I pledge to acknowledge and work to reduce my sense of entitlement and my unearned privilege.

But this post would not be complete without mention of a grave confusion I feel, a grave error I see around me, some important questions whose answers escape me: What is it in our humanness that leads so many of us to act as if we need to oppress some group in order to be sure of our own value? How is it that so many of the people I would naturally love have somehow concluded that they deserve more consideration than people who dont look like them, or who dont believe like them, or even who are a different gender than they are?

And a corollary, whether I can ever answer those questions or not: What can I do to reduce the oppression in which I participate, and to prevent new oppressions from arising?

All around me is reason for despair, but also reason for hope. More of my companions are deeply engaged than Ive seen in decades. More actual work is being done to reduce racism, ageism, sexism, ableism, and what I have to call religionism.

I know, as I said at the beginning, that everything goes in cycles. The pendulum swings, sometimes farther and sometimes more briefly. May the present cycle of oppression and doublespeak be brief, may the hard work continue and may it be effective; may the pendulum swing back toward center, and may we dwell in a fair-minded place longer than before.

So mote it be.

Maggie Beaumont, Halfway to Ostara at the Dark of the Moon

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Cycles and Oppression – Patheos (blog)

Disobedience Checks Unjust Laws – The Oberlin Review

Is it ever acceptable to break the law? This question has gained new urgency under the oppression of the Trump presidency. For example, is it morally acceptable to hide our neighbors and friends from violent deportation raids? Can we destroy government property to slow the progress of unconstitutional proposals like Trumps border wall? How can we stand up against an incompetent administration that refuses to recognize our most basic human rights?

These questions are not new. In fact, this country was founded through lawbreaking when the 13 colonies decided to reject an oppressive government that did not fairly represent their interests. Countless other examples of disobedience from Rosa Parks to the Stonewall Riots that sparked the modern movement for LGBTQ equality have been defining moments in U.S. history.

The key point is this: There is sometimes a difference between what is legal and what is right, and understanding that distinction is a critical part of what it means to be a patriot in the United States. Standing up for ones country does not mean blind obedience. As the famed Civil War General Carl Schurz said, [The U.S. is] my country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right. In some cases, setting the country right may involve working within the system and following the rules, but other times it may not. Perhaps in a perfect world the need for disobedience would not exist, but sadly, this world is far from perfect, and an unjust law is no law at all. Our actions, therefore, must be dictated not by legality but by our conscience.

When the law is found to be lacking in morality, crime can be a powerful force of good. For example, in 2014, a 90-year-old Floridian was repeatedly arrested for feeding the homeless an illegal act punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. This goes to show that the law is not always representative of justice or the will of the people it is simply a tool for the purpose of establishing and maintaining the status quo. However, the act of breaking the law can reject a corrupt status quo, inviting a new status quo to take its place. As a result, disobedience becomes an unofficial last resort in a system of checks and balances.

Now, Im not advocating for anything malicious. Disobeying the law does not necessarily require one to harm another person in any way. In fact, one should be disobedient only when there are no alternatives that may be taken in good conscience, such as in cases of defending oneself or others from police brutality or unjust deportation raids.

Some argue that breaking the law can be detrimental to ones own cause. The alt-right movement has used crimes against white supremacist leaders as propaganda, disguising themselves as victims rather than oppressors. A prominent example of such propaganda is the alt-rights use of the viral video of neo-Nazi Richard Spencer being punched by a protester. Ultimately, it is important to remember that lawbreaking is an inherently risky activity especially for anyone who lacks the protection of social privilege and should not be taken lightly.

So if you choose to break the law in any way, choose an issue that matters one that is worth the consequences, whatever they might be. Productive crime is only necessary because legislation is fallible. Laws are only as fair as the people who write them sometimes less so and if they are not constantly questioned, then our democracy is already lost.

In the end, well-behaved, law-abiding citizens seldom make history. Bystanders are well-behaved. These were the people who shrugged as the slave trade thrived, who allowed the Nazis to commit their atrocities, and who now turn a blind eye to police brutality, immigration raids and the cruelty of the rising alt-right movement, simply because these injustices were or are considered legal. A petition and a nice speech are rarely enough to change the world. Sometimes, when the rules are rigged, the best thing to do is break them.

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Disobedience Checks Unjust Laws – The Oberlin Review

Opponent of Duterte’s drugs war arrested in Philippines on drug charges – Reuters

MANILA A Philippine senator and staunch critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs was in police custody on Friday following her high-profile arrest for drugs offences that she described as a vendetta that would fail to silence her.

Leila de Lima, who last year led a Senate probe into alleged extrajudicial killings during Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign, said the arrest was payback for taking on a president who had acted like a dictator.

On Tuesday she called Duterte a “sociopathic serial killer” who had a “criminal mind”.

“The truth will come out at the right time,” de Lima told reporters outside the Senate office where she spent the night, moments before law enforcers marshaled her into a waiting van.

De Lima, her former driver and bodyguard and a former prison official were ordered arrested after a judge found merit in criminal charges filed by the justice ministry last week.

She faces two more drug-related charges in the same court and described the cases as “all lies”.

Bail is not permitted under the charges and if found guilty, de Lima faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

House speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a close ally of Duterte, described her arrest as a victory of the war against drugs, adding “no one is above the law, not even a senator”.

But de Lima’s supporters quickly came to her defense, with Vice President Leni Robredo describing the arrest as “political harassment”.

Senator Paulo Benigno Aquino, a cousin of former president Benigno Aquino, called it “a concern for anyone who will dissent on any of the policies of this administration”.

The criminal complaint alleged de Lima received 5 million pesos ($99,850) from a former prison official when she was justice minister between 2010 and 2016.

The allegations she was in cahoots with drugs gangs surfaced when she led a Senate investigation, which probed alleged summary executions during Duterte’s bloody drugs war and a pattern of similar killings over the 22 years in which he was mayor of Davao City.

That investigation found no proof of wrongdoing by Duterte, who disparaged de Lima almost daily in televised speeches in which he made lurid allegations about her private life and even suggested she hang herself.

She filed a complaint with Supreme Court to try to muzzle the president.

At the heart of de Lima’s campaign has been the 7,700 deaths since Duterte took office eight months ago, more than 2,500 in police operations. The cause of many of the other deaths remain in dispute and human rights groups believe many of them were extrajudicial killings.

De Lima was removed as head of her Senate probe by Duterte’s allies and days later came under investigation herself in a congressional inquiry in which witnesses, several of them convicts, identified her as a key player in the narcotics trade.

Phelim Kine of the New York-based Human Rights Watch said Duterte had “effectively expanded his ‘drug war’ from the urban poor to the legislative branch” by arresting de Lima.

(Additional reporting by Manuel Mogato and Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie)

WASHINGTON A proposal the Trump administration is considering to designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization has stalled over warnings from defense and intelligence officials that the move could backfire, according to officials familiar with the matter.

BEIRUT/ISTANBUL An Islamic State car bomb killed more than 50 people on Friday in a Syrian village held by rebels, a war monitor said, a day after the jihadist group was driven from its last stronghold in the area.

BERLIN Europe should impose punitive tariffs on imports from the United States if President Donald Trump acts to shield U.S. industries from foreign competitors, a senior ally of German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in a newspaper interview.

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Opponent of Duterte’s drugs war arrested in Philippines on drug charges – Reuters

GambleAware: Gambling Help & Gambling Addiction …

National Gambling Helpline Freephone 0808 8020 133 8am-midnight 7 days a week

GambleAware aims to promote responsibility in gambling. We provide information to help people make informed decisions about their gambling. We will help you to find out more about gambling and what responsible gambling means, to understand and recognise problem gambling, and show you where to go for further information, help and support should you need it.

National Gambling Helpline Freephone 0808 8020 133 8am-midnight 7 days a week

For help, support and advice about problem gambling please contact the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133 or via the NetLine.

GambleAware c/o Responsible Gambling Trust, 7 Henrietta Street, London, WC2E 8PS Registered in England No 4384279 Charity No 1093910

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Here’s what’s next in video game gambling in AC – NorthJersey.com

Pharaoh’s Secret Temple is one of the first video game gambling offerings in North America – so far the games only can be played in Atlantic City at four casinos, including Tropicana.(Photo: Noah K. Murray/Special for the Record)

It started with Danger Arena a first-person action game in the realm of Call of Duty.

Next came Pharaohs Secret Treasure a Match 3 game a la Candy Crush.

Next month, the latest in video game gambling offerings at Atlantic City casinos will be Nothing But Net a basketball shooting game. (For all the details on this new industry, and why Atlantic City’s casinos are the first in North America to have the games, click my story here.)

I think this might be our first really big hit, said Blaine Graboyes, CEO of GameCo., the company behind these games. Its so easy to play just one big button. Anyone can do it. With Danger Arena, if you dont play Xbox or PlayStation, youre probably not going to be very good.

Graboyes told me that a customer gets 12 shots, with each valued at a different amount. Thats the variable that intersects with the skill get a bunch of high value chances, and you are more likely to get enough points to break even or perhaps win money. The animation lets you know what each shot is worth.

Net will be in Tropicana and the three Caesars properties in Atlantic City, and Graboyes said all seven AC casinos likely will be offering video game gambling in the next 30 days. Atlantic Citys months-long monopoly on these games wont last, however, as Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut also will launch these games in March.

Graboyes said he just finished the application process to Nevada regulators, setting up the possibility of Las Vegas casinos joining the party sometime this summer.

While the couple of dozen video game gambling machines are dwarfed by the slot machine inventory, more and more such games are on the way. Look for hidden object games, fighting, racing, space combat, and bubble shooter, Graboyes said.

We are working to appeal to all gamers the average age is 35, and its 50-50 male and female, he added.

Look for big name brands on new games, too think Terminator, Mission Impossible, Ferris Bueller, Paranormal, and so forth.

Finally, Graboyes enthusiastically confirmed that he has the same experience people-watching around these games as I do. He even mentioned a spot where I visited last week the 10 North Lounge at Tropicana in Atlantic City.

Isnt it interesting? asked Graboyes. Its like they just dont know what to do when they approach the games. Theyll almost be afraid to touch it, like the game might bite them. Ive seen people stand by them for 10 minutes, just looking.

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Here’s what’s next in video game gambling in AC – NorthJersey.com

Push to expand gambling underway in Missouri and Illinois – STLtoday.com

JEFFERSON CITY Missouri and Illinois residents soon could have thousands of new slot machines clanging and blinking in their midst.

In Missouri, two lawmakers are pushing plans to legalize video gambling in bars and fraternal organizations as a way to generate money for education.

In Illinois, Sen. James Clayborne, D-Belleville, has introduced a proposal to allow slot machines at the Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, a car racing track located just minutes from downtown St. Louis.

In both states, the proposals would allow video gambling in establishments where it has previously been prohibited.

In Missouri, the legislation would allow up to five video gambling machines in taverns and restaurants and up to 10 machines in benevolent organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

The state would then collect a split of the money generated by the machines.

Missouri Rep. Bart Korman, R-Warrenton, is sponsoring one of the measures. He said the revenue could help pad the states checkbook.

When you look at the budget situation we have, I think its something we need to have a conversation about, Korman said.

In particular, hed like to see revenue generated by the slot machines to go toward schools.

The cost of busing is an important issue in rural areas, Korman said. Student transportation has been cut year after year.

A similar proposal sponsored by Missouri Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, would earmark 35 percent of the receipts generated by video gambling to higher education.

The legislation is similar to a measure approved in Illinois in 2009; it didnt get underway until 2012.

Since then, Illinois has seen an explosion in the number of establishments offering video gambling.

After four years, the number of businesses with at least one terminal tops 5,700. The total number of machines is nearing 25,000, according to statistics compiled by the Illinois Gaming Commission.

Video gambling generated $277 million for Illinois in 2016. Local governments received $55.4 million.

Bringing a mini-casino to the Gateway race track would add to that total.

Claybornes proposal amends Illinois video gaming act to allow up to 200 terminals at a licensed motorsports park. Gateways facilities already include a drag strip, a 1.25-mile superspeedway, a 1.6-mile road course and tracks for go-karts and off-road vehicles.

Gateway spokeswoman Susan Ryan said the proposal would help diversify the facilitys income stream.

The long-term success of this business requires a diverse revenue base including non-racing entertainment options such as festivals, charity events, private parties, concerts and gaming, Ryan said in a statement.

Clayborne, whose proposal has not been scheduled for a debate, could not immediately be reached for comment. His proposal is separate from a larger gambling proposal that was floated as part of a package designed to end Illinois long-running budget stalemate.

Under that proposal, Illinois would get new casinos in Chicago and its south suburbs, Waukegan, Carterville, Rockford and Danville.

The casino industry in both states is primed to fight the expansion of slots.

The Illinois Casino Gaming Association is opposing Claybornes idea, primarily because it could lure gamblers away from the Casino Queen, located less than five miles away in East St. Louis.

Its just such a big proposal and the Casino Queen is so close by, said association executive director Tom Swoik.

The Missouri Gaming Association, which represents 13 casinos, opposes the expansion of video gambling in Missouri because it also would cut into the casino market, executive director Mike Winter told the Post-Dispatch.

Illinois experience offers evidence that casinos have been affected by the explosion of video gambling.

In December 2007, for example, Illinois fleet of riverboats was drawing 1.3 million visitors. A decade later, that number had dropped to under 950,000 visitors. Receipts also have dropped in the past decade.

Illinois law also has led to a new breed of gambling parlors.

Business owners have launched chains of so-called gambling cafes hoping to draw customers who wouldnt otherwise go to bars. A chain called Lucys Place, for example, was originally designed to attract women over 40. Other similar operations are named Nikkis, Dottys and Pennys.

In Missouri, it remains unclear if Gov. Eric Greitens supports an expansion of gambling. His office did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said he opposes gambling revenue as a way to fix the state budget. But he wont block the proposal from coming to the Senate floor for a debate.

Im not a fan of legalizing gambling to plug any hole for anything, Richard said. The Senate is supposed to be for open and fair discussion, so thats what I try to do, regardless of my support or not.

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Push to expand gambling underway in Missouri and Illinois – STLtoday.com

William Hill’s potential next CEO backs curbs on TV gambling adverts – The Guardian

William Hill announced a 1% rise in pre-tax profit. The government is reviewing the harm TV gambling advertising may cause. Photograph: Neil Hall/Reuters

The man tipped to lead the UKs second-biggest bookmaker has broken ranks with the industry by offering support for a curb on TV gambling adverts.

Betting companies have largely rejected suggestions that their ads are seen by too many vulnerable people and children, but William Hills finance director said he understood peoples concerns.

I have teenage children and we are sympathetic to some sort of curb or some sort of review around the level of advertising, said Philip Bowcock.

Asked if companies were glamourising gambling, he claimed William Hill was more cautious than some high street rivals.

You could say that we are a little bit more corporate, but we try and be responsible about what we promote, he said.

Bowcock, the interim CEO after the departure of James Henderson last July following successive profit warnings, is among the favourites to be named chief executive, with a decision due within weeks.

His comments on advertising, as the company announced a 1% increase in pre-tax profit to 226m, come as the government reviews the potential harm caused by fixed-odds betting terminals and TV advertising.

The gambling industry has largely been defensive about the impact on children of TV advertising, which is banned before the 9pm watershed, except during sports events. The Remote Gambling Association, which counts William Hill among its members, rejected the need for curbs on the industry last year. And the Association of British Bookmakers has pointed to voluntary measures such as scrapping adverts for free bets before the watershed.

But one industry source said backing restrictions on daytime TV ads may benefit William Hill.

If youve got hundreds of shops with your name in the window, youve got much greater exposure than someone like Sun Bets, who have to do stunts with pies to get their name into the market, said the source, referring to the controversial incident involving the Sutton United reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw.

GambleAware recently launched adverts highlighting the risks of addiction. The ads, one addressing fruit machines and one highlighting online gaming, appear on YouTube for internet users in the north-east and north-west of England, but could be rolled out nationally.

The charity wants gambling companies to agree to one of its adverts being broadcast for every 20 of their own.

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William Hill’s potential next CEO backs curbs on TV gambling adverts – The Guardian

FA and Gambling Commission probe Sutton goalkeeper Wayne Shaw’s pie-eating – Sky News

Sutton goalkeeper Wayne Shaw is at the centre of a betting probe after eating a pie on the substitutes’ bench during an FA Cup defeat to Arsenal.

The 46-year-old has admitted he knew Sun Bets were offering 8-1 odds against him doing so.

Both the Gambling Commission and the Football Association are now investigating whether the incident broke any rules.

:: Pie-eating goalkeeper Wayne Shaw resigns from Sutton Utd

Nicknamed the ‘Roly Poly Goalie’ because of his 20st weight, 46-year-old Wayne Shaw is employed by Sutton as a reserve goalkeeper and as part of the coaching team.

He said: “A few of the lads said to me earlier on, ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie later on?’

“As I say, Sun Bets had me at 8-1 to eat a pie. I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down.

“I went and got it at half-time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go. It was meat and potato.

“I think there were a few people (who backed it). Obviously we are not allowed to bet. I think a few of the mates and a few of the fans. It was just a bit of banter for them.

“It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”

Gambling Commission enforcement and intelligence director Richard Watson said: “Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened.

“As part of that we’ll be looking into any irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its licence requirement to conduct its business with integrity.”

The FA is also looking into the incident, saying in a statement that they are “investigating whether there has been a breach of FA regulations in relation to betting”.

The FA rulebook says: “A participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition.”

Speaking on BBC 5 Live, Sutton chairman Bruce Elliott said: “Wayne is a top man. I didn’t know anything about it. He has got himself in the papers again and the fame obviously has gone to his head a little bit, but we will soon bring him back down to earth, don’t worry about that.”

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FA and Gambling Commission probe Sutton goalkeeper Wayne Shaw’s pie-eating – Sky News

Gambling is state policy – Scranton Times-Tribune

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A slots parlor at the Mohegan Sun Pocono casino. State lawmakers and the Wolf administration are poised to extract even more revenue from gambling. (Times-Tribune File)

State government leaders long have gambled with the states financial health. They rolled snake eyes, for example, when they vastly increased public pension benefits in 2001 without a mechanism to pay for it. So there is symmetry in their current efforts to make more gambling the answer to the financial problems that their own wayward bets have produced.

The state government has a systemic deficit of about $3 billion. That is the accumulated effect of lawmakers refusing to modernize state tax policy and pretending at meaningful pension reform all for fear of the political risk.

But for politicians, there is no risk to expanding gambling, taxes on which are collected by third parties casinos, racetracks and lottery agents rather than directly by the state.

Its no wonder, then, that lawmakers already are pondering casino-operated internet gambling and fantasy sports gambling. And, during budget hearings this week, state lottery Director Drew Svitko told legislators that the administration wants to put lottery games online.

What were not talking about is just selling our existing product online … as much as were talking about selling a new type of product, an interactive, engaging, more relevant product to a different audience, he said.

Unlike many past gambling proposals, this one at least is honest. At the beginning, advocates pressed casino gambling as a means to capture dollars that Pennsylvanians already were losing in Atlantic City. The objective was not to create new gamblers, they said, but to capture existing gamblers.

That, of course, was baloney. The reason for the interest in internet gambling is that even existing gamblers get old. Some even die. To capture new generations of gamblers, the enterprise must venture into cyberspace, where younger people live on their multiple devices. The administration admits, at least, that the new initiative is aimed at a different audience.

Pennsylvania casinos already produce more state revenue than in any state other than Nevada. Gamblers lost $3.21 billion to Pennsylvania casinos in the 2016 calendar year, $1.39 billion of which went to Harrisburg in taxes.

In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, the state lottery sold a record $4.13 billion worth of tickets, paid out a record $2.63 billion in prizes and turned over $1.12 billion to the treasury.

Yet that is not enough for gambling-happy legislators who embrace indirect taxes while ignoring the social dysfunction that it fosters (note the frequent reports of arrests of people who steal from employers and civic groups to cover their legally accrued gambling debts).

Pennsylvania has enough gambling to satisfy old and new gamblers alike. Lawmakers and the administration should stop being croupiers and start working to reform state tax policy, fix the pension systems and foster the economic growth needed to resolve the states crisis.

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Gambling is state policy – Scranton Times-Tribune

Boynton man gets two years for embezzlement he blames on gambling – Palm Beach Post

WEST PALM BEACH

A 59-year-old Boynton Beach man was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to get help for a gambling problem that he claimed led him to embezzle roughly $1.7 million from construction companies where he worked.

Alan Gainsborg was also ordered by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra to pay $1.1 million in restitution to MSP Enterprises Inc. and PH Developers LLC, two Boynton Beach development companies owned by Michael Puder. He repaid roughly $560,000 and handed over the deed to his house when his scheme unraveled and he was fired in November 2015, according to court documents.

Gainsborg, who pleaded guilty in December to two charges of mail fraud, was allowed to remain free on bond. He is to turn himself in on April 24.

With the help of a Deerfield Beach man who wasnt charged, federal prosecutors claim Gainsborg sent fake invoices to Puder. When Puder questioned the bills, Gainsborg ran them through two general contractors. Those men, however, didnt know Gainsborg was stealing from Puder and didnt make any money on the scam, prosecutors said.

Gainsborg began working for Puder in July 2013. Puder is a developer of both commercial and residential projects, including the 130-home Waterview at Boynton Lakes, 115-home Montego Bay at Boca Pointe and The Grove, a 550-unit townhouse complex in Boynton Beach.

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Boynton man gets two years for embezzlement he blames on gambling – Palm Beach Post

Which Philippine Business Tycoons Benefit Most From Duterte’s Online Gambling Crackdown? – Frontera News

This is post 1 of 3 in the series Who Are Philippines Largest Casino Tycoons and How They Will Benefit from Dutertes Online Gambling Crackdown

Alongside his deadly war on drugs, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte recently started his anti-gambling campaign. Online gambling must stop, were Dutertes words during his very first cabinet meeting on June 30, 2016. The Philippine President has vowed to destroy online gambling and electronic gaming parlors that have been loosely regulated.

Accordingly, on February 2, 2017, he passed an executive order (EO 13), directing law enforcement agencies to step up the fight against illegal gambling and clarifying the authority of online gambling operators. The license to operate online gambling granted to qualified operators shall not be assigned, shared, leased, transferred, sold or encumbered to any other party. Any gambling operator desiring to operate outside the jurisdiction of the government authority which issued its existing license shall apply for a separate license with the appropriate authority, the EO read.

While this does cast dark clouds over online gambling operators in thePhilippines (EPHE) (PIE), it raises hopes for casinos owners and operators. Casinos in thePhilippines should gain more prominence with online gambling being curbed, as casino operators in Asia attempt to cash-in on the entertainment needs of the rising middle class of the region.

Within Asia, casinos operators (BJK) (PEJ) have long focused on Macau as their revenue earner. Companies such as Las Vegas Sands(LVS),Wynn Resorts(WYNN), andMGM Resorts(MGM)already operate properties there. Being the only Chinese territory where casino gambling is legal, Macau has long held the reputation of being one of the most popular and profitable gambling destinations.

However, the last three years havent bagged much windfall for gaming and casino operators in Macau. Reasons for this slowdown include:

With sliding revenues from their Macau-based casinos, we may see operators shifting their focus toward the Philippines, which stands to swing to prominence as an alternate entertainment hub. The country is already contending with Macau and Singapore to become a major gambling hub.

The next article in this series looks more closely at the owners of these gaming companies and their revenue growth prospects.

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Which Philippine Business Tycoons Benefit Most From Duterte’s Online Gambling Crackdown? – Frontera News

Quebec Moves Toward Euthanasia for Alzheimer’s | National Review – National Review

Our neighbor to the north demonstrates vividly how the logic of euthanasia consciousness spreads like a virus.

Once a society generally accepts killing as an acceptable response to human suffering, the killable categories expand exponentiallyclearly seen in the Netherlands and Belgium where psychiatrists kill the mentally ill, sometimes coupled with organ harvesting.

Abuses? What abuses?

Canada is driving that same road with the pedal to the metal. Quebec is now actively considering expanding euthanasia to include the mentally incompetent if they asked to be killed in an advance directive. From the Montreal Gazette story:

A consensus is emerging among Quebec parliamentarians to launch a public debate on the appropriateness of legalizing medically assisted suicide for persons unable to give informed consent, such as patients suffering from Alzheimers disease.

My mother died of Alzheimers, so I know what this disease is like.

I also know that it would have been wrong to allow herworst fears about what her life was going to belike when the illness beganto bite, to allow her to order herself poisoned to death when she lost capacity.

Even in my mothers very difficult final days, there were good moments in which she was able to receive and give love.

To say she would have been killable because she was so ill would have been to say that her loss of capacities rendered less than human. Not on my watch.

And that brings up an ironic point: At the same time in whichconcerted efforts are being undertaken to reduce the categories of animals killed by euthanasiaa worthy causesimilar efforts are underway where euthanasia is widely accepted to expand the number of people so killed.

That path leads to extreme moral peril.

The same progression we have seen in Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and now Canada, will happen here if assisted suicide ever becomes widely accepted. Its only logical.

And heres the worst part: When that happens, people wont care because societys adherence to the equality/sanctity of human lifewill have been fundamentally subverted.

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Quebec Moves Toward Euthanasia for Alzheimer’s | National Review – National Review

JAILED: Drug and gambling addict brought misery to train passengers – Eastwood Advertiser

14:15 15:08 Friday 24 February 2017

A drug and gambling addict who brought misery to thousands of rail passengers across the East Midlands area has been jailed for 26 months.

Lucas Niewiem, 35, was sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court on Wednesday for stealing cable from the railway line in the Long Eaton and Nottingham areas on eight occasions in March and April last year.

Niewiem, who had previously admitted to using an axe to chop the cable from live lines, pocketed a total of just 1,000 for his crimes by selling the cable to a scrap metal dealer.

His actions, however, resulted in 3,267 minutes of delays to trains in the East Midlands area and cost Network Rail over 164,500.

Niewiem was arrested at his home address on Lawton Close in Nottingham on April 28 after he was identified through forensic evidence left at the scene.

When officers searched his house, a cannabis farm was discovered above a child’s bedroom in the loft.

Twenty-four plants cultivating cannabis with a street value of 24,000 were found which Niewiem claimed to be growing for personal use.

Detective Inspector Gareth Davies, of British Transport Police, said: “Niewiem’s drug and gambling addition led him to risk his life to target the railway to steal cable to fund his habit and lifestyle.

“His selfish actions resulted in misery for thousands of passengers who were left stranded on platforms waiting for delayed trains throughout the East Midland area in March and April last year.”

Niewiem was given a 26-month jail term, 16 for the theft of cable, eight months behind bars for cannabis production and a further two-months’ term for an unrelated theft, drugs and breach of a non-molestation order from January.

DI Davies added: “Cable theft is not a victimless crime; it costs the rail industry millions of pounds each year and disrupts passenger journeys and busy lives.

“We take this type of crime extremely seriously, and we will do all we can to bring offenders to justice.

“We worked closely with Network Rail and East Midlands Trains to secure the sentence against Niewem which we hope sends act as a deterrent to others.”

Hayley Bull, community safety manager at Network Rail, said: “This case demonstrates just how costly cable theft from the railway can be.

“Trespassing onto the network for any reason is extremely dangerous, as well as being illegal.

“This incident shows how cable theft can end up costing the taxpayer huge sums of money to put right, as well as causing mass disruption to passengers trying to go about their daily lives.

“It also causes delays to improvement work, which is vital to create a more reliable railway.

“We are continually developing better ways to protect the railway from cable thieves and will continue to work with the British Transport Police to prosecute anyone caught carrying out such a mindless act of vandalism.”

Sarah Potts, crime and security strategy manager for East Midlands Trains, said: “We are delighted with this result as cable theft not only costs the railway industry a lot of money but can cause significant disruption for travelling customers.

“The jail term demonstrates that we take cable theft seriously and will continue to support our partners at British Transport Police and Network Rail in seeking convictions for individuals who selfishly inconvenience our customers.”

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JAILED: Drug and gambling addict brought misery to train passengers – Eastwood Advertiser

Inside The Quiet, Prophetic Politics Of Theologian C.S. Lewis – The Federalist

Although it was published more than 70years ago, C. S. Lewiss The Abolition of Man reads like a commentary on modern American education, sociology, and politics. With uncanny prophetic powers, Lewis, an Oxford don and Cambridge professor who never read a newspaper orset foot in America, accurately diagnosed our twenty-first-century social-political-educational ills.

At the core of Lewiss critique lies modernitys abandonment of all objective aesthetic, moral-ethical, and philosophical-theological standards. There is nothing essentially sublime about a waterfall; that is just a subjective preference that we project on to it. In the same way, virtues like courage and loyalty and values like patriotism and the inherent dignity of every individual are not universal absolutes written into our conscience but mere feelings and opinions.

Statements like this is good (as opposed to wrong) or this is true (as opposed to false) or this is beautiful (as opposed to ugly) have no factual, scientific basis and thus have no binding power outside the individual or group that makes them. The realm of objective science may be governed by unchanging laws of nature, but no such natural law exists to govern the subjective realms of the Good, the True, and the Beautiful.

What this has led to in the halls of public education, the central focus of The Abolition of Man, is the debunking and dismantling of the teachers traditional task of training students to know, heed, and embody the universal, cross-cultural moral-ethical codewhat Lewis calls the Tao. No longer a virtuous guide and mentor, the teacher morphs into a controller who manages students the way a commercial farmer manages chickens. In the absence of fixed, objective standards, students become malleable commodities that can and will be shaped in accordance with the prevailing orthodoxies of those in power.

Such is the inevitable outcome of a Tao-less education, an outcome that itself carries ominous sociopolitical implications. For once our social and political leaders have thrown out any Tao-based understanding of what it means to be human, they can begin to reshape all of humanityand, because they now have at their disposal scientific methods of eugenics and social engineering, they will most likely succeed in their goal.

No one who reads The Abolition of Man carefully can fail to see the political implications of Lewiss critique, and yet, anyone who knows Lewiss life and writings knows that he was not a person who took an active interestindeed, any interestin politics. What is the Lewis scholar or aficionado to do with this seeming dilemma? Until now, not much.

Thankfully, however, that situation has been remedied by Justin Buckley Dyer and Micah J. Watsons brief but incisive new book, C. S. Lewis on Politics and the Natural Law. Through a close analysis of Lewiss extensive works and letters, Dyer, associate professor of political science and director of the Kinder Institute on Constitutional Democracy at the University of Missouri, and Watson, 2015-16 William Spoelhof Teacher-Scholar Chair and associate professor of political science at Calvin College, demonstrate that Lewis not only had much to say about politics, but that what he said needs to be heeded by those of us who live half a century after his death.

The Abolition of Man, Dyer and Watson argue, is indeed a political book grounded in the foundational biblical teaching that man was made in the image of God (imago dei) but is fallen. It is because of this dual aspect of our nature that we know the Taoit is inscribed in our conscienceand are bound to obey it, while also knowing, when we are honest with ourselves, that we do not and cannot keep it. Everything Lewis wrote about ethics and politics rested on his understanding of these two first acts [Creation and Fall] of the biblical drama, observe Dyer and Watson.

Because Lewis believed firmly in the imago dei, he believed we all had access, through our reason and conscience, to the Tao: that is, the natural law. Because he believed just as firmly in the Fall, he, despite his love of medieval monarchy, advocated a classical liberal view of government that bears much similarity to Lockes view of limited government and Mills harm principle. It is in ferreting out these two aspects of Lewiss non-systematic political views that Dyer and Watson make their greatest, and their most original, contribution to Lewis studies.

In a way that no Lewis critic I am aware of has yet done, Dyer and Watson set Lewiss Broadcast Talks, which were later collected and published as Mere Christianity, in their historical context. Notably, World War II drove Lewis toward an affirmation of natural lawif there is no Tao, then no one can justifiably condemn Nazi ethics as universally and cross-culturally wrong. By contrast, World War II drove German theologian Karl Barth away from natural law, because he concluded that if we allow for a source of divine truth apart from the Bible, then the door is left open for the Nazis to baptize their own culture and fuse it with the revealed gospel.

Although Dyer and Watson treat Barth sympathetically, they argue, convincingly, that, in allowing the horrors of Nazism to push him away from the ability of human reason to perceive general revelation, Barth not only broke from the traditional theology of Luther and Calvin but set reformed Protestantism on a trajectory away from natural law. Even after the war, Barth remained antagonistic to any claimed source of theological knowledge outside of Gods revelation in the person of Jesus Christ, including any claim that God had revealed truths in reason, in conscience, in the emotions, in history, in nature, and in culture and its achievements and developments, they note.

In a knowing rebuttal of the anti-natural law stance of Barth, Lewis begins the Broadcast Talks (and later Mere Christianity) with a what the authors describe as defense of objective moral principles. In offering the twentieth centurys finest apologetic for Christianity, Lewis was also consciously preaching fidelity to the old moral law, revealed in nature and known by reason, at a time when the idea of natural law was under serious attack by prominent Protestant theologians [like Barth] as well as secular philosophers, scientists, and social planners. Indeed, when it came time for Lewis to write his seminal work of literary history and theory, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century Excluding Drama (1954), Dyer and Watson note Lewis coined the term Barthianism to describe the modern Calvinist penchant for flattening all things into common insignificance before the inscrutable Creator.

What has all this to do with politics? A great deal. Barths abandonment of natural law has by no means protected us from the encroachment of totalitarianism into our public schools and social programs. To the contrary, in the absence of Lewiss Tao, it has become all the easier for educators and politicians alike to carve out new goals and rights for man that have nothing to do with our true ontological status as creatures made in the image of God but fallen.

What then is to be done? Though Lewis was clearly drawn toward monarchy, a system he incarnates and celebrates so memorably in his Chronicles of Narnia, he nevertheless upheld democracy as the best form of government. Lewis was a partisan of classical liberal democracy, not because it allowed for maximum political participation for all of a nations citizens, but because it curtailed the likelihood of political tyranny. He was a democrat because he believed human nature had been corrupted, the authors note. Given our fallen state, it was unwise to entrust too much power to a single individual or group, a sentiment that was expressed even more strongly by one of Lewiss mentors, G. K. Chesterton.

But does this put Lewis in the same camp as Locke? Though I was initially skeptical on this pointI view Locke as a deist whose rejection of innate knowledge leaves little room for a God-given conscienceDyer and Watson won me over through careful argumentation and balanced proof texting. Both Locke and Lewis believed that the end of government was the protection of individuals and their property, broadly understood. Both claimed that God is the ultimate source of property, and as such, God is the ontological source of genuine morality, though people could still access that morality without acknowledging God as its source or agreeing on how to best relate to God, they write.

If Dyer and Watsons equating of Lewis and Locke made me do a double take, then their equating of Lewis with John Stuart Mill made me do a triple take. Could there possibly be any meeting ground between the great Christian apologist and the Victorian utilitarian who, to my mind at least, was a functional atheist? Though more circumspect in making this link, Dyer and Watson demonstrate that Lewis, like Mill, saw governments role, not to make men moral, but to do as little harm as possible. And that includes, as disturbing as it may appear to conservative Christians like myself, Lewiss suggestion that secular states need not criminalize divorce, homosexuality, or other victimless crimes.

Still, Dyer and Watson make it clear that Lewiss liberalism does not put him in league with utilitarianism as a theory of politics or of the nature of man. Accordingly, Lewiss liberalism stems from a commitment not to neutrality among competing conceptions of the good nor to the greatest happiness for the greatest number. . . . Lewis invokes the harm principle to protect society from the dangers of theocracy and to protect the Church from the dangers of blasphemy. Lewis prudentially adopted a utilitarian strategy in order to foster a regime most likely to promote and facilitate human flourishing. As such, his commitment to teleology is not necessarily undermined by his use of Mills harm principle.

It is through discerning passages like this one, in which careful distinctions are drawn between theory and practice, foundational principles and pragmatic realities, that Dyer and Watson prove themselves to be reliable guides through Lewiss scattered writings on politics and the too often scatter-brained attempts of modern and postmodern educators, sociologists, and political theorists to establish justice and ensure domestic tranquility in a world that has lost its moorings in the Tao.

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Inside The Quiet, Prophetic Politics Of Theologian C.S. Lewis – The Federalist

Uber Is Doomed – Jalopnik

Illustration credit: Jim Cooke/Jalopnik

If there is one quote that sums up the ethos of Uber, it might be this cut from the companys firebrand CEO Travis Kalanick: Stand by your principles and be comfortable with confrontation. So few people are, so when the people with the red tape come, it becomes a negotiation. But after a month marked by one disaster after another, its hard to see how Ubers defiant, confrontational attitude hasnt blown up in its face. And those disasters mask one key, critical issue: Uber is doomed because it cant actually make money.

After a discombobulated 2016, in which Uber burned through more than $2 billion, amid findings that rider fares only cover roughly 40 percent of a ride, with the remainder subsidized by venture capitalists, its hard to imagine Kalanick could take the company public at its stunning current valuation of nearly $70 billion.

And now, in the past few weeks alone, Uber has been accused of having a workplace that fosters a culture of misogyny, accused of stealing from Google the blueprint of a successful self-driving system, and has lost 200,000 customers over ties to President Donald Trump and how it responded to a taxi driver boycott.

Yet even when those factors are removed, its becoming more evident that Uber will collapse on its own. Barring a drastic shift in the companys businessan implausible rollout of self-driving car fleets across the U.S., an increase of fares by three-fold, or a complete monopolization of the taxi and ride-hailing marketsUbers lifeline is shrinking. Its business model could collapse if one court case, and there are many, goes against it. Or perhaps more pressing, if it simply runs out of cash.

That Kalanick quote about confrontation may be as innocuous as a random sound bite, but its representative of the ride-hailing giants methodology since its founding in 2009: a perpetual resistance to regulatory oversight; a belief that, ultimately, an unfettered market is the key to prosperity.

At first glance it seems like Kalanicks libertarian ideals have paid off. Most recently valued at a reported $69 billion, Uber has captured a majority of the ground transportation market and flipped the taxi industrya sector Kalanick once famously and snidely referred to as the Big Taxi Cartelon its head. His philosophy mirrors the mindset of one of his favorite authors, the laissez-faire Ayn Rand. In 2012, Kalanick proffered that Ubers battle against government regulations has an uncanny resemblance to the Randian philosophy. A billionaire fighting The Systemand prevailing. Its a good story for those who find truth in Atlas Shrugged.

Ubers long had skeptics, and its not innovative to paint Kalanick, 40, as the boogeyman of Silicon Valley, where unseemly savants exist in vast supply.

The precarious moment in the companys eight-year history falls on Kalanicks lap. Its his baby after alla startup founded on seemingly nothing more than a vague idea, without much regard for the workforce to make it possible, or even a clear idea of what business model it actually wants to pursue. Uber has jumped from one idea to the next: UberX, UberEats, autonomous cars, and now flying cars, of all things.

The impact of Ubers death would probably be as much of a rebuke of Kalanicks vision of running on a scatterbrained dream, not so much a solid business model and philosophy, that you could muster.

It would also be devastating for some. The livelihood of 11,000 employees across the world rests on Kalanicks decision to submit to that philosophywhich, at its core, is a ruthless way of doing business. At the very least, drivers in the pre-Uber market could earn a decent living. Conversely, for example, Uber drivers taking advantage of new vehicle solution pilot program in Boston renting cars by the hour through Zipcar will earn less than Massachusetts minimum wage. How innovative.

One of the biggest issues that has left Ubers business model hanging in the balance is its resistance to classifying its driversthere are reportedly600,000 in the U.S.as employees, not contractors. If Uber is a house of cards, this is a key part of the foundation that, once removed, would demolish the structure.

Indeed, the company has said reclassifying drivers could force Uber to restructure its entire business model. The result of its opposition to readjust has been entirely expected. Without the perks and protectionsthat an employee may enjoyhealth care, benefits, gasoline and work reimbursements, vehicle maintenance, all of which could reportedly total as much as $730 millioncomplaints from drivers have piled up, ranging from low pay to new services like UberEats (a loathed food delivery service thats reportedly set to lose over $100 million annually) and UberPOOL, its carpool option which increases the companys take per-ride, lowers the take-home pay for drives, and is understood to be quite a drag for drivers and passengers alike. Drivers themselves said as much in a recent, disastrous question-and-answer session with Ubers president.

The counter-argumentperhaps one that would come from Kalanick himselfis that Uber drivers have the freedom to work whenever and wherever they want, or for the company at all. But the reality is that perception is built on a lie.

Uber, which didnt respond to questions from Jalopnik about its viability, recently paid $20 million to settle claims that it grossly misled how much drivers could earn on Craigslist ads. The companys explosive growth also fundamentally required it to begin offering subprime auto loans to prospective drivers without a vehicle.

Drivers with loans need to work to pay their monthly tab, thereby necessitating they work more for less, and so on. (Figures released in 2015 indicated that nearly 40 percent of Ubers driver force has no other source of income, while 30 percent work for Uber while holding down a second part-time job.)

To maximize their income, some have taken to sleeping in their car to be close to busier work areas. And beyond drivers, the company has also been accused of lying to prospective engineers about promises of lucrative stock options, in a move that could allegedly save it millions of dollars of tax deductions.

The Craigslist ads, for one thing, succeeded in reeling in drivers.

I thought I would try it out because I was desperate, said one driver who learned about the company after reading an online ad and declined to be named for fear of retribution in an interview with Jalopnik. Back then, the pay was quite a bit more than it is now. There have been a number of fare cuts since then. So, at the beginning, it was kind of different because not only was the pay higher, [but] because the pay was higher, there was a different type of customer that was using the service.

He added, And then contrast that with now with uberPOOL, a driver can be getting paid just 80 cents for a ride, and all the sudden you have these people who mightve been taking the bus, and now all the sudden theyre your boss for 80 cents and you better hop to and do what they say with a smile, or youre going to get a 1 star rating, if not [physically] assaulted in some cases.

That strikes at a core tenet of Ubers case that it provides a far-superior taxi service. Violent incidents, for example, involving drivers and passengers have popped up timeandagain against a backdrop of the companys campaign to prevent it from having to subject prospective drivers to extensive fingerprint background checks. Really, what is an Uber but a taxi with a smartphone app? Even then, taxi services have launched apps of their own.

Customers want to get from A to B quickly, pleasantly, and at a reasonable price, said Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigans Ross School of Business. The Uber thing worked because it was cheaper and, initially, it was more pleasant than the typical taxi. So thats why it worked. But people dont have loyalty to Uber, not even the drivers. The drivers tend to drive for both Uber and Lyft, its chief competitor and a company with a remarkably more cuddly public image, albeit one that is probably not deserved.

But its the driver classification as contractors thats routinely staked out as potentially devastating for Uber. A $100 million settlement for a high-profile federal class-action suit over driver classification was denied last year, but the judge in the case believes Uber has enough wiggle room to readjust and still survive, despite the companys insistence that it would have to wholly restructure its operations. While that case remains pending, more suits over the driver classification have continued to emerge.

If you lose a case in a statethe state asserts theyre employees for state lawit would encourage other states to file lawsuits, but you only lose state by state, Gordon said. If you lose it at the federal level theyre in huge trouble.

The part-time model can last forever, he continued. But with drivers doing this more or less full time, he said, Something has to change; the price of the rides has to change… And if what changes is these people end up being employees, then I think the whole house falls down.

Its not just Uber drivers who feel downtrodden. A widely-circulated essay published last week by a former engineer described a series of incidents that painted the companys headquarters as a space that fostered repeated, systemic sexual harassment.

The essay by Susan Fowler Rigetti alleged that her former boss, for instance, solicited her for sex.

On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasnt. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldnt help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

When Fowler Rigetti engaged with HR, she said, they responded that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this mans first offense … he was a high performer. Translation: Nothing would happen to him.

Kalanick immediately issued a statement that what Fowler Rigetti described is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. He added that it was the first time hed learned of the allegations. An investigation was ordered, and Uber hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct the internal probe.

But Silicon Valley is a small place, where high-profile talent bounce around companies on a regular basis. People talk. For Uber, the damage may have already been done.

I think this could definitely take a toll, said one former Uber exec who requested anonymity, adding: Its going to be difficult to continue to recruit the best and brightest talent.

Fowler Rigetti claims Uber had a game-of-thrones political war ranging within the ranks of upper management in the infrastructure engineering organization. Managers and peers duked it out, she said, while some attempted to undermine their direct supervisors with the intention of taking their job.

The ramifications of these political games were significant: projects were abandoned left and right, she said. The discontent and disorder at Uber HQ that she describes doesnt lend credence to the idea that its facilitating a decent work environment to succeed going forward.

In late November, the financial blog Naked Capitalism published the first of a series of pieces by transportation industry analyst Hubert Horan on the financial viability of Uber. The posts asked a simple question: Can Uber Ever Deliver? According to Horan, based on a significant amount of data on the companys finances that has been released, the answer is no.

Horan argues that, in order for Uber to prove that its domination of the taxi industry will improve overall economic welfare, it would have to earn sustainable profits; provide service at a significantly lower cost; create new competitive advantages through major product redesigns and technology/process innovations; and, eventually, be incentivized to pass on its efficiency gains to consumers.

This hinges on an autonomous driving fleet. Despite optimistic overtures from automakers and self-driving car start-ups, the likelihood of that coming to fruition, if ever, is decades away. Ford has an optimistic plan to roll out fully-autonomous cars by 2021, for example, but they would be limited to use in a geo-fenced area.

Kalanick himself has said the development of self-driving cars is existential to Uber. Labor drives up operating costs; removing 160,000 drivers from the equation makes it a lot easier to balance the books. Though Uber has a reported $11 billion war chest stowed away, by burning through billions at a rapid clip, the path and timeline to becoming a driverless car company however that would materialize is muddled.

Even then, Ubers likelihood of success appears slim.

If you put driverless cars totally aside, the near-term future of Uber is the question of whether they could succeed in establishing a reasonably secure quasi-monopoly position in the United States and other large developed country markets before the cash runs out, Horan said in an email to Jalopnik. This is certainly possible but by no means certain. If yes, cash flow would improve considerably. If no, cash flow problems could get worse as the world becomes increasingly aware that it will never generate sustainable profits in its core business. Kalanick said that Uber had an existential need to succeed in driverless cars. This suggests his optimism about taxi profitability is not what it used to be. And at the rate its going, Uber could crash and burn through its stockpile of cash by the end of the decade.

Like a lot of Silicon Valley companies, Uber has survived on the backs of wealthy investors that have propped it up, despite eye-popping losses for several years. Horans analysis found that Uber has maintained operating losses of $2 billion a year, surpassing any start-up in history, with a negative 143 percent profit margin. Thus Ubers current operations depend on $2 billion in subsidies, funded out of the $13 billion in cash its investors have provided, he wrote.

Further, Horan found that Uber passengers fares only covered 41 percent of the actual trip cost, suggesting it charges far-too little for fares. Even public transit systems, long lambasted for being money-losing ventures, perform better: for instance, fare revenue for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, which serves the nations capital, accounts for 47 percent of its operating costs.

Uber … was using these massive [investor] subsidies to undercut the fares and provide more capacity than the competitors who had to cover 100 percent of their costs out of passenger fares, Horan wrote.

If a monopoly is the key to success, its hard to figure how Uber can achieve total dominance. In the third quarter of 2016, for instance, Uber lost $800 million, according to The Information, a tech news site. Its chief rival, Lyft, is backed by General Motors and recently secured market share gains against Uber in significant U.S. markets, the site said, adding that Lyfts continued relevance in the U.S. has changed the math for Uber in terms how much it projected it could profit from developed markets in the next few years.

Steven Hill, a former fellow at the New America Foundation think tank, who has regularly criticized Uber, said the company has been successful only because taxi service has kind of sucked.

I think ride-sharing may survive, but Uber may not, said Hill, who published a book on the so-called gig economy called Raw Deal: How The Uber Economy Runaway Capitalism Are Screwing American Workers.

Because the other thing thats really bedeviling Uber: instead of just focusing on being a good taxi company for the digital age finding the way, a sweet spot, to make that work, its blowing all sots of money [on] self driving-cars and China and now India. The company just so much reflects the megalomania of Travis Kalanick and whatever he thinks hes doing.

I mean, seven out of 10 silicon valley startups fail, Hill went on. Theyre producing a product or service that no one necessarily wants to buy at the cost you can produce it for. Capitalism 101, right? So thats what were seeing with Uber. At this moment, it does not appear that Uber is able to produce a service that customers will pay enough more to make it sustainable.

Its unclear in what markets Uber may be turning a profit, if any at all. The company reportedly said it wanted to achieve profitability in the second quarter of 2016, and it claimed at the time it had reached that goal in the U.S. and Canada. But by December, according to Bloomberg, Uber was losing money again in the U.S., to the tune of $100 million per year.

Its also striking that Uber tapped Wall Street banks for a billion dollar loan by convincing several financial institutions to focus only on its nearly $70 billion valuation, and not operating losses in certain markets. According to Reuters, regulators at the Financial Reserve were bothered by the loan because the banks carved out Ubers more mature operations from the rest of the business.

Thats a vague statement, but Reuters said the regulators scrutiny was not a surprise because it is rare for young, unprofitable technology firms to tap the leveraged loan market which is traditionally restricted to companies with long histories of generating cash. (The reserve declined to release any documents related to the loan in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, saying: Such information, including any statement confirming or denying that any such information exists, would constitute a disclosure of confidential supervisory information and thereby was exempt from public release.)

Again, its commonplace for venture capitalists and early stage investors to fund operating deficits. The belief is that the company is going to grow fast enough and that, with enough growth, its going to turn profitable, and its going to turn highly profitable, said Gordon, the University of Michigan business professor.

A common comparison to describe Ubers approach is Amazon, which lost money consistently over the first several years of its existence. As Horan notes, however, Amazons worst losses were $1.4 billion in its fifth year of operations, but shrank rapidly thereafter, while Ubers losses have been steadily growing and will be over $3 billion in its seventh year.

The problem with Uber, Horan argued, is that it doesnt have a powerful economy of scale that is, the savings in cost that are produced when production increases, particularly through fixed costs being spread out. Unlike Amazon, which had significant fixed costs, Horan said that 85 percent of Ubers costs are variable.

Uber cannot expand into new markets at very low cost since it faces unique driver recruitment, political lobbying and competitive marketing challenges in each city, Horan said.

Gordon said thats why the typical approach by venture capitalists with Uber probably wont work.

They dont have an economy of scale, he said. So, every day, venture capitalists fund loss-making companies, but not one [with] a model you cant see how its going to flip twice as many rides that you keep losing money on. Youre not going to start making twice as much money because youre doing twice as much rides. Its not like a factory [with fixed costs].

Maybe Kalanick knows something we all dont. Maybe Uber has a secret team of genius scientists wholl surpass all expectations of driverless cars and, somehow, have a fully-automated fleet of vehicles for the company to use everywhere within a few years. Maybe billionaire investors are actually fine with propping up a money-losing venture into perpetuity.

But until Uber can prove it has found a sustainable modelor, perhaps, stop the investor leaks of its financialstheres little to suggest it has the bandwidth to survive. Whether its sold, drastically shrinks its market footprint, or just outright shutters, its untenable for Uber to exist long term as the tech juggernaut it is today.

Kalanick has pushed an enterprise on little more than a grandiose bet: that Uber could exist on a playing field of its own with few regulations, carving a path to financial salvation by dominating the taxi market simply through the sheer force of investors with bottomless pockets. It isnt working.

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Uber Is Doomed – Jalopnik

Ron Forthofer: To live by the Golden Rule, we must recognize the ‘others’ – Longmont Times-Call

People early on learn the Golden Rule, essentially to treat others (regardless of differences) as you wish to be treated. This idea is found in many faiths as well. For example, love and compassion, not hatred and coldness, are a key part of Jesus’ teachings as well as part of other religions.

The political campaigns and outcome of the Nov. 8 election have served as a wake-up call for many and emphasized the need for people to recommit themselves to the Golden Rule. There is now a widespread realization that there are increased threats, including violence, to vulnerable populations, especially minorities, immigrants, gays, poor people and the disabled in this country. It is great that so many people today are engaging in the effort to support the vulnerable who have been suffering for decades or longer.

However, it’s not just individual and group acts of discrimination that are of concern. Vulnerable groups have long been targeted by biased policies and by systemic racism. Examples include the abuse of blacks during the Jim Crow period and the theft of properties and internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

From colonial time, and especially in hard economic times, the rich and powerful used the idea of divide and conquer to keep the overwhelming majority of people from coming together to challenge the power of the few. Unfortunately, this approach is still effective. Hatred against and fear of minorities (including immigrants) is stoked by scapegoating them for the recurring economic hardships and for crimes. Until we understand how we are being manipulated to protect the interests of the 1 percent, we won’t achieve an economic system meet the needs of the people and the race to the bottom will continue.

Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Therefore we also have to consider our treatment of peoples in other nations. For example, we have allowed and often encouraged our government to use extreme violence against people who were different from us, especially when we coveted their lands and/or resources. We tended to view the other as inferior, even less than human, and therefore we seemed to think that we could violate the Golden Rule as well as international and human rights laws.

The genocide against Native Americans is a horrific example of our violations. Our government and population acted shamefully against Native Americans, including breaking most treaties negotiated with them. Unfortunately, the treatment of the Sioux water protectors at Standing Rock demonstrates that we have made little progress in following the Golden Rule toward these fellow humans.

The fire bombings of several German and Japanese cities and the use of nuclear weapons against Hiroshima and Nagasaki showed our almost total disregard for civilian lives. By its bombing of cities, the U.S. followed the lead of the enemies and of Britain in committing atrocious war crimes.

According to J. Robert Oppenheimer, even before the approval of the use of the atomic bomb, Secretary of War Henry Stimson expressed dismay at the “appalling” lack of conscience and compassion ushered in by the war. Stimson stated that he was disturbed by the “complacency, the indifference, and the silence with which we greeted the mass bombings in Europe, and, above all, Japan.” This indifference likely was also found in the populations of Germany, Japan and Britain.

More recently, the U.S. committed horrendous crimes in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia as well as in the Middle East, starting in Iraq. The illegal and immoral attack on Iraq has played a major role in creating the disaster spreading throughout the Middle East. We, the U.S. public, have generally shown a lack of compassion for the victims of our crimes.

If we are ever to live up to the Golden Rule, all people must realize that the “others” are fellow human beings with equally valuable lives.

Ron Forthofer is a retired professor of biostatistics who lives in Longmont.

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Ron Forthofer: To live by the Golden Rule, we must recognize the ‘others’ – Longmont Times-Call

United Way to present Golden Rule-Lightkeepers, Fabric of our Community Awards – Jacksonville Daily News

The Golden Rule Lightkeepers Awards a partnership between the United Way and The Daily News along with the City of Jacksonvilles Fabric of Our Community Award will be presented at this years luncheon on Friday

Excellence will be recognized this week at a luncheon to honor community volunteers.

The Golden Rule Lightkeepers Awards a partnership between the United Way and The Daily News along with the City of Jacksonvilles Fabric of Our Community Award will be presented at this years luncheon on Friday at noon at the Courtyard by Marriott in Jacksonville.

The awards are something United Way Volunteer Onslow Director Shelly Kieweg said highlight the accomplishments of local volunteers.

When we recognize excellence, we acknowledge volunteer efforts that go above and beyond, which in turn makes them feel proud of their own accomplishments and want to continue to volunteer for us, Kieweg said. Volunteers are priceless. They are the backbone and add value to nonprofit organizations.

For recipients to qualify for an award, they must be a volunteer in a capacity that helps the community and be nominated as Lightkeepers, from which the Golden Rule winners are also selected, by an individual or a community agency, Kieweg said. Golden Rule Award winners will then be nominated for the N.C. Governors Volunteer Service Award.

The Fabric of our Community Awards new this year will recognize community members who through a lifetime of work, have helped achieve higher civic education, improved the civic infrastructure of our community or performed efforts to advance citizenship, citizen participation and encouragement of our community.

For Kieweg, the experience of watching volunteers receive these awards is truly moving. Its something she said makes the staffs hearts happy.

Most volunteers dont volunteer for recognition, she said. They volunteer because they are giving back to their community, and that is what matters most. To see their faces when they are being recognized is priceless.

Kieweg said that while no award can match the satisfaction a volunteer can receive from serving a neighbor in need, the event is the least they can do. She encouraged the public to nominate individuals who do much to make the community better. To nominate a volunteer, visit JDNews.com/UnsungHeroes to fill out a nomination form.

The luncheon, catered by The Flame, is open to the public. Those who wish to attend can RSVP at UWOnslow.org. Tickets, which are $15 each, can be paid for online or at the door.

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United Way to present Golden Rule-Lightkeepers, Fabric of our Community Awards – Jacksonville Daily News

From mushroom picker to deputy sheriff: Herc Avello relishes golden rule – Daily Local News

More than three decades ago, an unlikely confluence of regional influences mushrooms, the Wyeths, and a passel of crooks redefined a Kennett Square residents career path.

Hercules Herc Avello, who marked his 30th anniversary with the Chester County Sheriffs Office last month, said he expected to follow his fathers footsteps into the mushroom industry. From the age of 10, he had performed a variety of odd jobs, ranging from washing to picking, at ACA Mushrooms, his fathers company.

Born and raised in Kennett Square with a brother and a sister, Avello joined the Future Business Leaders of America Club at Kennett High, and he recalled being the only male in his typing class. He selected it because he figured it would serve him well in the mushroom industry as well as at the Poolside Deli, a family store next to the YMCA that was run by his mother.

I thought that was my path, Avello said. Then, a couple of incidents made him reconsider his vocation.

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Avello said his father had a heart attack in the late 1970s at the young age of 47, an experience that necessitated some major lifestyle changes. As his father struggled to rebound, another setback occurred. Avello, who was 19 at the time, remembered coming home one day from work and finding his parents distraught as police officers and detectives combed their home.

The family had fallen prey to a brazen burglary ring that made national headlines in 1982. Among its victims: Andrew Wyeth. Fortunately for the artist, the thieves, who included a mushroom grower from Avondale, were not particularly skilled at fencing stolen paintings. By early 1983, a massive FBI investigation resulted in five indictments.

But repercussions from the crime continued for his family, Avello said. His father, who had been targeted for his coin collection, decided to sell the mushroom business. By then, his sons brush with law enforcement had left an indelible, positive impact. I remember being really impressed with the job they did, Avello said, adding that he wanted to emulate them.

Avello learned that the Chester County Prison had an opening. So he took a job there, and he enrolled in the Municipal Police Academy at Delaware County Community College. A year and a half later, a position opened in the Chester County Sheriffs Office.

By then, he was married and starting a family, which now includes his lovely wife Kathy, a son, a daughter and a granddaughter, and the regular schedule appealed to him. So he changed gears on Jan. 5, 1987. A bonus: He started working with gun permits, a position he has continued.

I grew up hunting, Avello said. So I was very comfortable in that role. It really seemed to be my calling. He even got to utilize those typing skills.

But it wasnt until seven years ago that Avello fully appreciated the wisdom of his career choice. He was playing ice hockey with colleagues from the Sheriffs Office at Ice Line in West Goshen Township when genetics caused history to repeat itself. At age 46, Avello experienced a heart attack.

He credits county resources and the fast action by deputies and West Goshen police with saving his life.

Were really fortunate to live in a county that ensures that first-responders have the tools they need, he said, explaining that a defibrillator was in the police car. He said a recent Valentines Day demonstration of hands-only CPR by the county commissioners reinforced their continuing commitment to citizens health.

Avello said he hoped to replicate the recovery of his father, who went on to enjoy more than 3 decades. In the meantime, Avello still finds great satisfaction in assisting people with gun permits.

A lot has changed, he said, ranging from the disappearance of typewriters to the countys significant growth.

Thirty years ago, Avello said that he knew about five percent of the people who came into the office. Back then, the office processed 30 to 50 permits a month; that number now runs from 250 to 300. The increase hasnt slowed the process, though, since technology enables background checks to be done almost instantly.

Avello said he believes the Sheriffs Office is a special place to work. When I hear people say the boss is only as good as the people below, I have to disagree, said Avello. That hasnt been my experience: I work hard because of Sheriff (Carolyn Bunny) Welsh. She sets the tone.

Part of the office philosophy mirrors his own, Avello said.

I was always taught to treat people the way you want to be treated, and that seems to work well here, he concluded.

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From mushroom picker to deputy sheriff: Herc Avello relishes golden rule – Daily Local News

Keith Ellison is too liberal to run the DNC, says Muslim ex-spokesman for Clinton – TheBlaze.com

Former Clinton campaign spokesman Mo Elleithee said Fridaythat fellow Muslim Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) is too liberal to run the Democratic National Committee. Ellison is considered a front-runner in the election for DNC chair which will be held Saturday.

He made the comments to Vox, saying,Youre going to be shocked at me telling you this: Ellison is too liberal to run the DNC.

Ellisons greatest competition is former labor secretary to Obama, Tom Perez. Elleithee explained why he was favored over Ellison, explaining,Tom is not in bed with anybody he served President Obama; he knows the Clintons that doesnt make him establishment any more than it makes me establishment. I served in Clinton and Obamas administrations, but Im not establishment.

Backed by the Bernie Sanders wing, Ellison is seen as the more progressive alternative to Perez, perceived as the establishment pick and backed by the Obama and Clinton wing of the party. Also in the running is the dark horse mayor from South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg.

The Sanders wing is the far more animated and spirited portion of the party, but their far left ideology is considered a negative after the devastating 2016 election.

The average voter in the United States is moderate, Ellison explained. A lot of people in my circles agree with that. And Ellison is too close to Bernie Sanders.

Ellison has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism, something he addressed during the CNN debate for the DNC chair Wednesday.

These are false allegations, and thats why I have 300 Rabbis and Jewish community leaders who signed a letter supporting me, Ellison said, going on to cite works he had done on interfaith issues for the benefit of the Jewish community.

He also appeared to want to dish out some left-wing red meat for his progressive supporters during the debate, as he declared that President Trump was impeachable on the first day of his presidency. Some of the other candidates beat around the bush on the issue, wanting to not appear as extreme as Ellison. Perez, meanwhile, distinguished himself by touting cooperation among Democrats as being the worst nightmare of President Trump.

Democrats will vote for DNC chair Saturday in Atlanta, Georgia.

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Keith Ellison is too liberal to run the DNC, says Muslim ex-spokesman for Clinton – TheBlaze.com


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